Have you ever heard of cognitive overload?
Cognitive overload occurs when we are asked to perform a task in such an intricate or confusing way that our minds get lost in the details and fail to deliver successfully, leaving us feeling both frustrated and irritated.
In education, cognitive overload is one of the first causes of disengagement, especially for time-poor corporate learners. It can also result in anxiety, stress, low attendance rates and disappointing test results.
For L&D professionals and training companies who need to deploy successful learning tools, this means two things:
- Firstly, your L&D activities should be clearly and carefully structured
- Secondly, design is of critical importance
Creating learning materials that are accessible, engaging, and effective to learn new skills is the focus of a specific field: instructional design. That is where Learnship makes a difference.
How many people does it take to change a lightbulb?
Instructional design ranges from basic features like fonts, colors, and images up to more complex tools like help options and navigation systems. At Learnship, no less than 20 people work together on instructional design.
- Our VP Learning Sciences sets the pedagogical direction.
- Product owners design the user experience in the technical product.
- Our content writers write the exercises and our content editors ensure polished, coherent, level-appropriate learning paths.
- Our translators make sure that meaning is maintained across languages.
- And our media team create our audio and video content.
If some elements are defined upfront, others are the result of decisions made along the way between the different teams. As you can guess, excellent communication and alignment between the teams is critical.
Three ways we keep language training learner-friendly at Learnship
Let’s face it: sometimes, there’s no way around a certain level of difficulty. Some language elements need longer explanations. In French, the past participle agrees with the direct object complement if it is placed before the auxiliary, but not if it’s placed after – and there’s nothing you can do about it. That’s called the “intrinsic load”.
The best we can do is make it as learner friendly as possible:
- Build on the learners’ knowledge. That means to correctly assess what the learners know and don’t know, and build on solid ground. That’s the “germane cognitive load”.
- Take out the fluff. Insufficient, incoherent, or unnecessary information (or “extraneous cognitive load”) can only create confusion. At Learnship, we get straight to the point, based on a clear structure: one activity, one language objective, one professional context. Everything from texts to images to live sessions is harmoniously designed to that end.
- Avoid splitting attention. When designing our user interfaces, we were very careful to remove any distracting design elements. The same goes for our content engineering. This means, for example, that the learner will not have to scroll down to first read a long text, then analyze a complex diagram, then return to the text to understand what they are meant to do.
Instructional design in action
At Learnship, instructional design is not just a theoretical principle – it’s what makes our Sprint courses more impactful, with a much faster ramp-up. Shorter, but not rushed.
If you want to know more, ask us for a Sprint demo, and have a glimpse of what our instructional design strategy looks like in practice!